Sunday, December 5, 2010

Java Jive

Since it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere you go, it makes sense that some of the plants in My Florida Backyard are putting on their Christmas colors as well. The holly berries aren't red yet, but the Wild Coffee is making up for it very well.

Wild Coffee has one of the best scientific names ever: Psychotria nervosa. This Florida native evergreen shrub has tiny white flowers leading to berries that deepen to a dark brownish-red.

 Wild Coffee does not like the cold (we'll have to cover it ahead of the chilly temps expected here over the next few nights), and is generally considered hardy to zone 10. This shrub can grow four to ten feet high in the wild, but here in My Florida Backyard, it tends to stay much smaller. It died back to the roots in last year's terrible cold spell, and has recovered to about two feet by two feet now.

Wild Coffee berries aren't used to make the coffee you buy at Starbucks - that's Coffea arabica.  However, the berries have a lot of wildlife value for birds and small mammals, and butterflies will nectar at the flowers. It's a nice ornamental in full sun or part shade, and prefers moist well-drained soil. You can find it at most native plant nurseries - we bought ours several years ago at Wilcox Nursery in Largo.

With the holidays fast approaching, it's nice to see that the plants in My Florida Backyard are getting into the spirit of things. We'll highlight more seasonal favorites over the next few weeks, so be sure to check back for more holiday colors!

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